Into The Drone Zone With SB81

The next release on DROOGS sees Metalheadz regular SB81’s debut for the label. Inspired by artists like Boymerang and the glory days of No U Turn, expect plenty of sci-fi atmospherics and chopped breakbeats. We caught up with the producer to discuss his past, DROOGS, Headz and remixing J Majik’s “Your Sound”.

“The Blue Room/Drone Zone” is released on UVB-76’s sister label DROOGS on 7th August 2020, available on 12″ and digital.

Downloads can be pre-ordered from the labels Bandcamp now.

Some people may not know but you used to record as Nolige, can you please tell us a bit about your background and journey up to now?

I’ve always loved music from as far back as I can remember really, but when I first heard tracks like Inner City “Good Life” on Top of The Pops as a kid I switched onto that rave vibe. Also Prodigy’s “Charlie”, that one stands out a lot; the good vibes, very themed and colourful music. By 1991 I was fully hooked by early Reinforced, Production House, Brain Records, etc. The main thing I was fascinated by was the breakbeats, especially amens, but generally breaks that had that real funky bounce to them!

After listening to all this wicked music from the early to mid-’90s, it was a natural progression for me and my mates (Skitty being one of them) to take things more serious and get deeper into actually being involved in this music thing.

In 1998 I started buying vinyl pretty much every single week, that was before I even had turntables. Ed Rush & Optical’s “Wormhole” album was what really did that for me, I just had to own that. I then started learning to DJ around a mates house who had a pair of turntables. After being so inspired I got “Music 2000” for the Playstation a couple of years later, just for a mess around really; I think that program did a lot for me, it showed me some of the fundamentals into how to lay out breaks and how a track is put together. Around that time Skitty and I used to get studio time from a local hip-hop guy, 2003 was when we all got our studio setups. At this time it was all being done in the box, without spending tons of money on outboard equipment.

In 2005 I got one of my first fully finished tracks signed to Bassbin; massive thanks to Rohan for taking me on! That one gave me a lot of confidence to get on the right track. I have to give a big shout out to Loxy, Ink and Bailey as those guys used to give me a lot of love in my early days. Loxy and Ink always used to give me feedback and advise, and Bailey used to play a lot of my stuff on Radio 1/1Xtra, which was a big boost!

Around 2010/11 was when my life was taking on a bit of a different direction outside of music with a lot of changes happening, so I took about a year or so out. In 2013 I changed my name to SB81 and I intentionally approached making music a bit differently, more stripped back and modern. I had a new perspective on things after a long break and my first Metalheadz release showed that change of direction from making very ravey/Jungle influenced DnB to a more fresh take on it; I felt like I wanted to get back to being more creative and looking more into the future as an artist. I just wanted a change and getting on Metalheadz to kick start it was the best start I could have ever wished for!

Apart from Headz you’ve recorded for some of the most respected labels in the scene, namely Sci-Wax, Foundation X and Narratives. What has your experience in the music scene been like and give us an idea of some of your career highlights?

I’ve been very lucky early on in producing music to be accepted by those labels, I appreciate it greatly. They are labels I’ve always wanted to be on as I feel we share the same vision in this music. My biggest highlight so far has most definitely been getting signed to Metalheadz. That was a big deal to me as that was my main goal pretty much from the get go. Headz always felt like such a far reach due to my lack of confidence in my music and just the heritage of the label. Goldie has given me that extra push I needed, not only for letting me express myself as an artist on that label but the advice and encouragement I have been given along the way. With Goldie being from the same city as myself, I’ve always felt a big connection with him and the label, so for me, it has always been something very close to my heart.

Talking of Headz, you remixed “Your Sound” by J Majik for them, how did that happen and can you tell us a bit about the remix process? Fun or daunting?

I like a challenge to remix an old classic now and again (sorry!), but on this occasion it happened as an accident, to be honest. If I remember I was going through a folder of Oldskool sounds I’d recorded years ago and there were a run of samples from the original and the remix of
“Your Sound”. Before I knew it, it was all finished and laid out, it flowed and came together very quickly. I did have in mind halfway through that I wanted to keep it very close to the original, but with a modern twist, which is the switch after the first initial drop of amens. It was fun more than daunting producing it because I didn’t intend for it to get released. The daunting part kicked in when I sent it Goldie, ha! I didn’t actually give it to him until about 6 or 7 months after I’d made it because I wasn’t sure about it. If I remember I’d sent over my “Blueprints” remix first, which Goldie and Ant both liked so I thought, lets just see how my remix of “Your Sound” goes down, and so they both came out on Razors Edge as a 12″.

DROOGS/UVB-76 has the same vibe to me as Headz, completely different in style but always pushing and striving to create something new and not afraid to take a few risks. How did you hook up with the label and what influence did this have on the tracks you produced for them?

Yeah, DROOGS has that Headzy vibe going on with that old but fresh sound. It’s the more rufige/breaksy side to their labels, which is what I like. I’ve known those boys for years, way before the labels started. Me and Skitty were booked on their early Abstractions nights in Bristol when they started those. Since Nick and the boys started UVB-76 Nick has been asking for me to get something over to him for quite some time now, but like most things, I guess it’s all down to timing! I wanted to get the right tracks over and at the time I was writing a lot of music for Metalheadz.

The previous releases have been purely for the dancefloor, contrasting the more techno/halftime sound of UVB-76, “The Blue Hour” is one of the deepest and progressive tracks DROOGS have put out. Can you tell us about it?

“The Blue Hour” was actually made around 2008! Around then I made a lot of tracks that were a bit different to what was coming out at the time and I think that was one of those, which is maybe why it didn’t get picked up. Those were the times when I was still experimenting with production, just before Skitty’s Foundation X label started and we delved more into the Jungle sound. Around that time the Dubstep thing was in full flow and it was crossing over into DnB, hence the halftime kind of flow in the track. I think Gremlinz has a bit of a soft spot for this one, he’s played it out a fair bit over the years. I’d recently rediscovered a load of WAVS of my previous tracks from a hard drive that didn’t get a release, so it felt like it made sense!

The track we are premiering today is called “Drone Zone”, reminds me of the classic Blue Note era and the Boymerang sound, tech-step but with lots of layers and atmospherics. What was it about this era you find influential?

I love the mixture of atmospheres, the dark jazziness, the breaks and musical elements from those times, there’s just something about the energy that struck a chord with me I guess. With artists like Photek, Optical, Matrix, Jonny L, Goldie, Krust, Dom & Roland, Boymerang, Deep Blue and all those Grooverider Jeep remixes, I feel like DnB had something really special going on with a futuristic sound that still resonates with me to this day. A lot of those tunes were way ahead of their time. Listening back to “Drone Zone”, it has a Dom/No U Turn vibe going on, which wasn’t intentional at the time of making it. Generally, I do try to do my own thing with production, but sometimes I do strongly gravitate towards my early influences. Hopefully, my vibe comes through the music as much as my influences!

As mentioned earlier, you are also a DJ. I know you enjoy putting together 90s sets, what era do you like mixing the most and why?

I started as a DJ, that was my first passion in music. I do love to mix Oldskool now and again, especially on vinyl AND live streaming it, ha! Now that keeps you on your toes! Particularly the very early 90s. 1993 is my favourite year to mix I’d say. That was a special time for me, there’s just too many classics and as the Blue Note era, it was another breakthrough year for the darker, slightly more technical sound from the more ravey sound of 1992.

What effect does DJing have on you when making music?

I guess DJing has affected my production over the years but it’s not really something I tend to think too much about, especially these days. I’m very much a process led kind of producer and I just like to go with the flow. It’s something new I learned about myself in uni when I did my Fine Art degree. I like to get in there and work through the process rather than have a set plan as such. It has its advantages and disadvantages I guess. It’s probably the reason why I haven’t written an LP yet because my idea of an album is for it to flow throughout and have cohesion. If I don’t bang out many tracks in a short space of time, I tend to have lots that all sound a bit different from one another. I love to get completely lost in music to the point where I don’t know what I’m making, which normally turns out to be the stuff that is not geared towards the dancefloor, but I’m happy with that!

I’m curious as to the effect that Lockdown has had on the music producers are currently making and what direction it might take the scene. Has it made a difference?

I don’t think I’ve really noticed anything, personally, but these days I’m a bit lost in the world of Drum & Bass anyway, I like to just get my head down and do my own thing. I haven’t really changed my process, let’s say that. I’d like to think it has shaken a few things up for the good, though. Maybe DJ’s who used to be amazing producers can get back in the studios again. Maybe it’ll give producers more time and the thought process to delve into themselves and put some real soul back into the music. Now and again I think we all need a bit of a change and a shake-up, in this case, it’s not necessarily the best kind, but hopefully, musicians can think outside the box and find some kind of strength from these challenging times.

Going forward, what’s next for SB81?

After my DROOGS release, there should be another Metalheadz EP by the end of the year, all being well. There are a couple more things in the works for some nice projects coming in the near future, which I’m really excited about! In the last couple of months I’ve also slowed the tempo down between 130-160bpm which has really inspired me so hopefully, I can get something to the right people for those to come out, possibly even start something myself, hmm, we shall see!


Premiere: Sonar’s Ghost – In A Soul (7th Storey Projects)

“In A Soul” is the title track from a forthcoming EP by Sonar’s Ghost for 7th Storey Projects, released early August on transparent yellow vinyl, it follows last years split 10″ with the man of the moment Coco Bryce. The “In A Soul” EP marks Dominic’s full debut release for the label.

Inspired by the great 3 and 4 track 12’s from 92-94, namely the Planet Dance EP by Studio II, the self-released King Of The Jungle EP’s and the first 6 or so Kemet and Third Party 12’s. “In A Soul” captures the moment were those influential releases moved away from crowd noises, pianos and chipmunk vocals yet retained a “ravey” quality with their energetic beats, ragga vocals and techno bleeps. This era in drum and bass resulted in the dawn of a notion that EP’s should show four different sides of the scene or reflect a variety of the current trends of the time.

“In A Soul” is drum and bass at its rawest, inspired by Nut Nut’s “Forbidden Planet” Dominic flips the famous amen from Bukem’s “A Couple Of Beats”, adds hip hop vocals, serene pads and light percussion to create the perfect tribute to 1994. Elsewhere on the EP, “Same Old Ting” picks up the pace with its ragga vocals and soundclash FX, “Gimme The Vibe” blends a sweet rare groove sample with reggae musical elements and rave stabs while “Science Of Silence” goes for a dubbed-out approach with its delayed FX and time-stretched breaks.

The “In A Soul” EP will be available to pre-order directly from 7th Storey Projects.


Friske On His Different Perspective, Metalheadz And Goldie

I’m not going to lie, I have found it quite hard to connect with new music for the last few months. I’m lucky to be sent promos from a variety of labels and PR companies, a lot of which turn out to be unoriginal 2-step foghorn “bangers” designed for the dancefloor with barely enough of an idea to progress beyond four minutes. There is always one label that I know I can rely on and anticipate their new releases with genuine enthusiasm and excitement, Metalheadz. “A Different Perspective”, the debut album by Friske, recently managed to lure me out of a dark pit of despondency with modern DNB so I jumped at the chance to talk about the LP, working with Goldie and releasing music on Headz.

Before we get talking about your debut LP, could you tell us a little bit about how you got into producing and your journey up to now?

I have been learning, playing and making music from an early age. My Dad has been my biggest influence behind my musical journey and played in a band in the ’70s so it’s in my blood. He bought me an Alesis SR16 drum machine as a birthday present one year around the age of 10 or 11 and I would spend hours and hours attempting to recreate the drum beats I heard listening to the radio and such. My Dad then took me to keyboard lessons with one of his old bandmates, Buzz, who taught me some extremely valuable knowledge at a young age. I’d learn how to play each individual part of entire songs, he always used to call me a ‘bass freak’ because learning the bassline was always the part I wanted to do first.

I grew up in Essex/Southeast London in the ’80s and ’90s and started finding out about jungle when it first came around from the older kids at my school who all had the Slammin Vinyl, Unity and Bangin Tunes jackets and record bags, I became intrigued. My sister, who is a few years older than me, gave me a Kemistry and Storm mixtape which I then claimed as my own as I was obsessed with it. I was always into hip hop, but I eventually clocked that the two genres were connected by breakbeats. Then I discovered “Inner City Life” by Goldie and “Circles” by Adam F, this spiralled my love for hip hop and drum and bass onto a whole other level. I got into djing and bought my first pair of decks around 16/17 years old and bought my very first records from Vinyl Conflict in Bexleyheath, which was run by Special K, and very quickly learnt how to mix. After a few years, I managed to secure a graveyard slot on Kool FM around 2003, located in Bromley by Bow, this was my first experience being within the scene and I met many known names during my time there. I only held the show for around 6 months or so, when I had the opportunity to go and live in the USA in Toledo, Ohio, which is about 45 mins from Detroit where I played on quite a few occasions. That is when I fully got into producing and writing my first full-length tracks and working out how to make a tune. I returned to London at the end of 2008.

Your time in the scene has seen you release music on some of the biggest labels for well over a decade, including Renegade Hardware and Warm Communications. What have been some of the personal highlights from your career and what was it like working with those labels?

Working with Hardware is where I met my long time comrades Loxy, Ink, Gremlinz and Nolige/SB81 etc. We formed a crew called “The Horsemen’ and were militant in our approach. We all share similar tastes and values when it comes to DNB and being brought into the fold around 2004/05 by Ink and Loxy was a dream come true for me. They really gave me encouragement and feedback about tunes, both good and bad which taught me a lot. After sending them quite a few tunes over the space of a year or so, “Troublesome” became my debut release on the first Horsemen album, “Apocalypse” in 2005. This was where I had several of my early releases and was my first experience dealing with a label, it was all a learning process.

I hooked up with Heath and Warm Communications around 2015 to produce “Sustain”, “Cold Signal” and “Marksman” for the label, which was released in 2016. I see Warm Comms as highly respectable with very tight quality control and was more than happy to sign with them.

How did you hook up with Metalheadz and what did that feel like?

I remember first speaking to Goldie after I sent him “Venture”. That was the tune that got his attention, he originally wanted it for “Platinum Breakz 4” and then I sent over a folder of tunes, one of which was “Covert”. I remember being at my girlfriend’s cousins house when I got another call to say he wanted “Covert” and “Venture” as a 12”. Goldie was an icon to me and probably the sole reason I got into drum and bass as he bridged the gap between hip hop and DNB. Headz has always been the ultimate label in my eyes so it was kind of a dream come true in a way. I was at a pretty dark time in my life at that point, I had a couple of situations occur and was technically homeless, so it was a massive boost and it gave me belief again. I’d already been active for around 7 years by then, I had my struggles, so this was really the breath of fresh air I needed, and being encouraged by someone who I admired was a blessing.


I described the LP as the perfect blend of sci-fi and B-Boy culture, it’s certainly got a Headz vibe to it but not in sound, you’ve managed to avoid the iconic palette of sounds many producers use to replicate that Headz style. I mean more in the approach, it’s epic and full of personality, unpredictable and varied. What was your approach in putting your debut LP together?

I wanted to make something that’s not all necessarily for the dancefloor, something people can actually listen to, with depth and potential longevity. Most drum and bass LP’s these days are not really albums, just more like a collection of random tunes which is exactly what I did not want to do. In my opinion, an album should be a journey for the listener and that’s what I wanted to create. The order of the tracklisting was carefully chosen and the titles tell a story in itself. If you look at the titles, and the order they are in, the album begins on the lighter side of things and ends dark and moody.

This is not an LP for plug-in nerds, or anyone who wants to hear an album full of “bangers”, if you were looking for that then your gonna be disappointed. I personally don’t give a fuck about current trends, making dancefloor “bangers” or trying to appease the sheep. This ain’t for you.

When I grew up on jungle/DNB, it was the sound of the streets, the inner city. I used to go raving at places like Stratford Rex so the street element of this scene is its roots and that’s where I want to take it back to. I also wanted to make something that could potentially appeal to people outside of the scene who maybe once were fans of the genre but became alienated when the sound changed in the early 2000s. This is actual music, with soul. Something that is seriously lacking these days or, has not been getting pushed rather, as it should be. People want the genre to be more diverse, including myself and its gonna take looking at doing things a bit different for that diversity to come to fruition in my opinion.

I hear ya on that front, back in the early days when the scene was beginning that diversity was everywhere! As mentioned, I get a strong B-Boy vibe when listening to your music. Especially the graffiti elements. Is this something you are involved in or influences you? That Skeme sample bought a nostalgic smile to my face.

I have always been influenced by hip hop culture from an early age, the 4 elements. I started to get into graf at around 11/12 after seeing tags around my way and after watching “Style Wars” which has probably inspired me more than any other documentary, I’ve sampled it many times over the years and there is probably still more treasure to be found. I did art at school, one of the few subjects I was good at and was actually interested in, my sketchbook was full of graffiti pieces but I never really got to the point of getting really deep into it because my main love is the musical element and that’s what I chose to focus on. When I saw “Juice”, which is probably my all-time favourite film, it made me get into DJing. After I got into that, everything else took a back seat, I’d found my calling. Music is my passion.

I remember watching “Bombin” on TV while growing up, it was like our version of “Style Wars”. There has always been a close connection between the two artforms to me and people like Goldie certainly seemed to apply the process of subverting the standard to create something fresh and complex, whether that was letters or drum edits. I saw you thank Goldie for supporting you as an artist and guiding you through the process of putting the album together, what can you tell us about that experience?

It was a long process over a couple of years. The first track that was chosen for the LP was “Destination. After I sent that was when talk of doing an album began. It gradually took shape over the next couple of years and was formed slowly piece by piece. I’d sometimes get a phone call from G about, “extending the breakdown of this tune”, or “make the drop come in earlier on that tune”. That kind of thing but mostly the tracks were accepted as they were. I was given total creative freedom, something that is extremely important to me as an artist. I grew up looking at Goldie as a true icon, so I was very inspired to make this album and wanted to draw from all my influences and create something I can look back on and be proud of.


I have a few stand out tracks from “A Different Perspective” I’d like to ask you about. Can you tell us something about these? I’m really curious to hear how they took shape, any direct influences and what your production process is like.

A Different Perspective: This is probably my personal favourite from the LP. It stemmed from the main pads I laid out that gave me a feeling of ‘freshness’ in a way. Then, as it took shape, the vibe really gave me the feeling of “a new beginning, a fresh start, a different perspective” like I get the image in my mind of an early morning in the city, its just been raining and the sun starts to come out and there’s a feeling of optimism. I would say this is one of the more uplifting tunes I have made.

Untitled Piano: This track started with the piano sample, one that I’ve had in my collection for a long time, one of the very first samples I got from my Dad’s record collection when I first started producing and collecting samples. I laid out the piano and then decided on the break and everything else fitted in quite easily. It was definitely one of the tracks that came together quicker than others on the album.

Urban Decay: This is a very personal track for me. I wanted to capture the vibe of living in a city like London these days. It’s a very tough environment, and there are many struggles and hardships for people including myself. The sample “Imagine life” is like a message to try and persevere through the hard times, to strive, hope and to never give up and have faith.

I took a Sade sample, done some processing and this became the main pad that you hear in the intro and throughout. I then brought up a nice pad sound on the midi controller and played the keys along to it and came up with the extra pads and everything else. The drum pattern kind of wrote itself, then I added the bassline. The track gave me a very strong vibe and the vocal snippet I used tied it all together nicely in my opinion.

Crime In The City: I wanted to take it back to the raw elements with this one and make something reflective of the times, and there is always crime in the city. I found the Skeme sample, another of which I’ve had in my collection for years, laid it out and the idea just flowed. Sometimes I can find a sample and it instantly paints a picture in my mind and I can envision each element, which is easier said than done to translate into logic but I managed to get it sounding just how I wanted it with this one, which is not always the case. The last piece of the puzzle was the “Nautilus” sample that fitted in nicely and, to me, gave it a grimy, dark texture that I was looking for.

Rebel Force: This was actually the last tune I made for the LP. I wanted something with a more classic dark Headz vibe without trying to copy anything else. I laid out the Apache break and the dark pad chord on my midi controller. I usually try and come up with a chord or 2 that resonates with me, then I have the notes to write the bassline and other parts. I sent it to Goldie not thinking that much of it, to be honest, and was a bit surprised how much he liked it. Sometimes I make tunes and don’t think they’re my best but then I’ll hear back from G or Ant and they say it’s my best work, I never really know how something is going to be received, one of the obstacles of being a solo artist perhaps?

I for one have found it quite challenging to get fully submerged in new music recently but “A Different Perspective” really struck a chord with me, I love the beauty and optimistic first half then the darker elements of the second. I always think the time an LP is released can really help define its legacy, with everything that’s going on around the globe right now, how would you like it to be received?

I wanted to create the sound of an urban landscape, where the music paints a picture in your mind. I would love for it to be looked back on as a classic, timeless album, this was my goal, whether or not I will achieve that remains to be seen, but I would say it contains the elements and has the potential for that, hopefully. It’s up to the public though, at the end of the day, all I can do is try.

I also wanted to show people, especially outside of the scene, that drum and bass can be respectable music. It does not all have to be the same 2-step beat, wobbly bassline and/or a foghorn. This is real music from the heart with little to no plugins at all. I wanted to make something authentic, never, ever synthetic. I have never ever given a fuck about trends in any walk of life, if you’re an artist you’re supposed to be expressing yourself, not trying to sound like someone else and if you just follow the latest wave then you are not a real artist. This album was not intended to impress plug-in geeks or anyone looking for an LP full of “bangers”, this is for deeper thinkers. I wanted to express myself fully and made this with the intention of touching peoples souls… and hopefully make someone’s favourite ever tune. But I’ll have to wait and see about that…

A Different Perspective” by Friske is out now on Metalheadz.

Premiere: Friske – Untitled Piano (Metalheadz)

“Untitled Piano” is taken from the forthcoming debut album by Friske, titled “A Different Perspective” the LP is released on Metalheadz on 26th June 2020.

The album features 16 tracks covering both light and dark elements in equal measure, a beautiful balance of rough and smooth. “Untitled Piano” is reminiscent of the original Good Looking style, reminding me of PFM’s “The Mystics” with its cosmic sounds, rolling drums and elegant flourishes.

“A Different Perspective” highlights the distinctive sound and production approach of Friske, often otherwordly and scientific yet still ripe for the dancefloor. A style firmly rooted in hip hop, the LP draws influence from classic drum breaks and samples from the iconic graffiti documentary “Style Wars”, resulting in a perfect blend of sci-fi and B-Boy culture.

“A Different Perspective” is available to pre-order now direct from the Metalheadz Bandcamp and store.


Friske – A Different Perspective

Two Hungry Ghosts Chart (June 2020)

Two Hungry Ghosts June Chart (June 2020)

Uplifting and Retro

Foul Play – Remasters (Sneaker Social)
Various Artists – Faces Volume 1 (Killer Smile)
Luke Vibert Presents – Modern Rave (Hypercolour)
Lynch Kinglsey – Crows (The Dreamers)
Coco Bryce – My Girl (7th Storey Projects)
D’TCH – No Good EP (Thr Dreamers)
Carter and Calculon – Youth Riot (Shoot Recordings)
RTR – Reward [Om Unit Remix] (???)
BSN Posse Featuring Jon1st – Burnin Shoes (Defrostatica Records)
Peven Everett – Stuck [Sinistarr 155 Flip] (???)

Dark and Murky

Friske – Rebel Force (Metalheadz)
Eusebia – Full Circle (???)
Antagonist – Gate9 (Ronin Ordinance)
Overlook – All Of Them Witches [Clarity Remix] (UVB-76)
Mahakala – Tomahawk VIP (Mahakala)
DreamSkape Featuring Ill Truth – Underdog (Lockdown)
Lynch Kingsley – Death Cycles (Inperspective)
Acid_Lab – Secret Weapon (AGN7)
Malign – Heathen/Hierarchy (Paragon Productions)
Kit Curse And Dreadmaul – Istanbul (Onset Audio)

Compiled by Dave Sector

Recommended: RDG – Hypnotica (Circle Vision)

“Hypnotica” by RDG is taken from the “Planetary Sound Fiction” album, available now on Circle Vision.

The LP contains a mixture of tempos, moods and grooves drawing on influences ranging from jungle to downtempo and dubstep to drone.

Including contributions from Rider Shafique and London based MC Killa P, known for his collaborations with artists like The Bug and Pinch, “Planetary Sound Fiction” is a sprawling collection of both vocal tracks and instrumental rhythms, providing moments to dance as well as time to pause and reflect.

With over twenty-five releases to his name and a decade of productions behind him, now is a great time to delve into both the LP and RDG’s bass-heavy archive.

“Planetary Sound Fiction” was mastered by Beau Thomas at Ten Eight Seven and is available now on double vinyl and digital, the physical version contains a poster of the futuristic turntable cartridge spaceship designed by Freshcore.


Premiere: Chet Matuto – Hermanson (Context Audio)

“Hermanson” by Chet Matuto is taken from the second volume of the Context Audio series, “Per Ardua“.

Taking its name from the latin for “Through Endeavour” the “Per Ardua” series aims to explore different sonic territory from the labels usual mainstay, delving deeper into the rich strata making up 170bpm music.

Taking several years to curate, Context Audio have put together eight tunes that, while from different producers, all share strong thematic elements. All parts melodic, gentle and emotive, the eight tracks are each a celebration of everything that 170bpm music can acheive and a reminder that drum and bass doesn’t just have to be about processed breaks and huge basslines.


Under The Counter (Volume Eight)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

Nymfo – Sting Blade (Metalheadz)

META084 welcomes Dutch producer Nymfo to the Metalheadz fold with his debut EP for the label. With previous releases on Hospital, RAM, Shogun and Dispatch among others, it’s great to see Headz opening their arms to invite producers from the wider scene to contribute their take on an iconic sound.

The EP first began to take shape last year upon the discovery of an old drum break, inspiring the artist to listen to  seminal Blue Note sets helping him craft what he describes as a “proper Headz tune”. That session spawned the title track “Sting Blade”, dark and bold with layers of bass, sounding just like an unreleased 90s dubplate. Breaks roll into each other, surgically chopped yet retaining their original funk while the bass is bold and brazen, engineered to grab your attention. All the Blue Note elements are there, eerie atmospherics, spoken word samples, strings are used sparingly adding character and drama, contributing to the dubplate feel. “Sting Blade” manages to capture the excitement of making a track, then cutting it to play to your friends and peers. One for the 96/97 heads.

Elsewhere on the EP, fellow Dutch producer Martyn features on the track “What’s Happening”. A soulful Rhodes sample creates a wonderful fusion of house and jungle, similar to early broken beat experiments of the late 90s. 

“No Choice” draws for the amen break and a snarling b-line that mutates it’s way through the arrangement while the digital exclusive “Lie Detection” takes a softer approach opting for techno chords and bleeps.

Various Artists – DROOGS005 (DROOGS)

The fifth release on UVB-76 offshoot DROOGS maybe their heaviest yet. From the amen frenzy of “Monolith” to the B-Boy fused paranoia of “City Limits”, both cuts are designed for rowdy dancefloors referencing the past while firmly pushing things forward. 

“Monolith” sees one of UVB-76’s founders, Gremlinz, team up with regular studio partner Jesta and DC resident Kalu for five minutes of carnage. Opening with intense strings and a distorted bass tone faintly in the background, the introduction hints at a storm brewing but nothing can quite prepare you for the ferocity of the drop. A wealth of amen variants, meticulously programmed, switch throughout this raucous battle of breaks. Constructed for maximum impact, the drums in “Monolith” are relentless, only stopping to pound for a few bars during its runtime.

“City Limits” by Friske (Metalheadz/Repertoire) is a stark contrast to the uncompromising nature of “Monolith”, drum breaks are replaced by drum machines and the bass, although still distorted, is warm instead of punishing. Early B-Boy references punctuate the track, from the sound of a subway train pulling into a yard or station to a primitive scratch of the word “break”. All this conjures images of youth trying to reclaim their identity through music and art in a city where streets are crime-ridden and their voices ignored. 

Like most cities, this track is sophisticated and atmospheric, with an ominous, almost sinister under-belly making this, possibly, my favourite DROOGS yet.

Bluematter – Real EP (Lore Limited)

More rugged amen action from Western Lore’s vinyl-only sub-label, Lore Limited. It’s great when you hear a track by an artist you haven’t heard before as it means you can do a bit of digging into the back catalogue and, in this case, be exposed to a wealth of music from different genres by the artist. Bluematter consists of Jozef K and Thomas Ragsdale, two producers whose background consists of making everything from “immersive soundscapes” to “blissful techno” receiving support from DJ’s including The Black Madonna and Maya Jane Coles. A recent track by the duo, “Aglaia” on Constant Circles, subtlely hinted a passion for drum and bass with its “Find Me” melody by Skanna.

“Real” begins sharply with rolling amens, similar to something Smith Inc would have done on Absolute 2 in 93, a high pitched string, techno pulses and Morpheus questioning “What is real? How do you define real?” before the “If you’re talking about what you can feel” line gives way to a 94 style amen, much heavier and chopped than the intro, resulting in a clever tonal change catapulting you forward through the evolution of hardcore into drum and bass.

“Zeus” and “Bunker” showcase the producer’s techno backgrounds with prominent kicks and dreamlike melodies, perfectly complimenting the chopped breaks that Western Lore is known for.

Out now on heavyweight black vinyl in a stickered sleeve, it’d be great to see this crossover into the experimental techno circuit as drum and bass owes so much to the genre for its own evolution.

Hooverian Blue – Old Gold (Sneaker Social Club)

Quality three-tracker from the ever-reliable Sneaker Social Club. After recent UKG style releases by Dream Cycle and Coco Bryce (under his Chavinsky moniker) the label return to breaks and bleeps with this bomb of an EP by Hooverian Blue. Among the three tracks is the “absolute weapon” fans of Ben UFO have been requesting an ID on since playing it at XOYO in August 2019.

That “weapon” is “Old Gold”, sounding like a modern-day take on “Valley of The Shadows” by Origin Unkown, albeit at a house tempo and minus the famous NASA vocal sample from the STS-51C launch. Built around a rumbling bassline that grows larger throughout the track, a classic Lyn Collins “Think” loop and minimal bleeps, it’s an obvious one to draw for when needing to pick up the energy in a set without going overboard. Like the other two on the EP it’s constructed with very few parts, much like “Valley of The Shadows”, but importantly all of the elements work so well together the tracks really don’t need anything else as all three have such a great vibe and 90s authenticity about them. 

“Eyes Closed” gets going right from the start with its “Hot Pants” chops and UKG style bass, rave stabs adding to the old school feel deeper into the track. “Laluviah“ is my personal favourite from the EP with its spaced-out techno bleeps and acid b-line, reminiscent of the sounds filling warehouses in 1990.

A solid EP and a joy to mix.

K3Bee – Zoot EP (Next Phase Records)

K3Bee returns to Next Phase Records with four tracks of retrospective drum and bass, paying homage to the music’s golden era.

Notably heavier than his previous NPR release, the “Bristle EP”, this collection explores the experimental and rugged side of 90s jungle. Taking elements from hip hop, ambient and jazz, the “Zoot EP” reflects a time where the scene was an alchemy of styles.

The title track, “Zoot”, has this ethos at its core. Constructed with a medley of parts, obtained from a variety of genres, then assembled to create something fresh and different. “Blue Mango” features an iconic jazz melody, which 90s hip hop lovers will appreciate, and an amen drop that would have tore up pirate radio back in 1994.

“Lo-Fi” takes us down the experimental path, full of delay, atmospheric noises and more fantastically edited amens. “Freedom” begins with industrial loops and techstep beats before introducing the Blowfly break and a bubbling b-line for an authentic jungle experience.

A triumphant return to Next Phase for K3Bee, the “Zoot EP” successfully reflects the myriad of styles and sounds that flowed through the 90s drum and bass scene.

Words: Dave Sector

Many thanks to the artists and labels who send me music. If you would like your release considered for inclusion on Two Hungry Ghosts please email your submission to

Two Hungry Ghosts Chart (March 2020)

Two Hungry Ghosts Charts (March 2020)

Modern Jungle And 170

Eusebeia – Equal Rights And Justice (Western Lore)
Thugwidow – South East London Fantasies (Two Hungry Ghosts)
Books – Carbon (Groundworks)
Hybert Phillips – Gerevol (Onset Audio)
RQ – Obsidian/Flaming Swords (CX Digital)
Nymfo – Sting Blade (Metalheadz)
Ben Kei – Desolate (Transmute)
Madikma – Reason [Akinsa Redub] (Onset Audio)
Ded Sheppard – The Youth [Out Of Fuel Remix] (Onset Audio)
DYL – Elder Gods (???)
??? – Digital Self (???)
Kratos – Options (PPJ)
Sonar’s Ghost – Soul Survivor (???)
Tim Reaper – Sub-Aquatic (Parallax)
Adred – Left Behind (Metalheadz)
Radiax – Rudeboy (Unchained)
Chromatic – Freshly Squeezed (Dope Plates)
Subp Yao – The Cause (Unchained)
Chet Matuto – Hermanson (Context Audio)
Sicknote And Sweetpea – The First Time (Addictive Behaviour)

Bonus Fifteen (Anything Goes)

Thugwidow – So Be It [BKCLX Ambient Mix] (Two Hungry Ghosts)
Linkwood & Foat – Linkwood & Foat (Athens Of The North)
Barefoot – Collapse (Groundworks)
Client_03 – Testbed_Output_01 (Astrophonica)
Phyzical Flex – My Gunz (Paradoom)
Difusion – Got Me Searching EP (Straight Talk Records)
Deep Sky Objects – T.M.K.F/The Chant (Never Ready Records)
WHT MOTH – Stretch (Solid Tracks Records)
ED1999 – Moving Glow EP (Porpax Records)
Chris Von B – Follow Me EP (Pirates Are Loud)
On-Ly – Broth (La Sape)
Angela Bofill – Under The Moon And Over The Sky (Arista)
Yellow Sunshine – Yellow Sunshine (Gamble)
Universal Robot Band – Barely Breakin Even (Moonglow Records)
Irreversible Entanglements – Bread Out Of Stone (International Anthem / Don Giovanni)

Compiled by Dave Sector

THG X Noods One.Seventy Takeover W/ Alexander (February 2020)

Alexander from One.Seventy hosts this special edition of the Two Hungry Ghosts show on Noods radio, featuring unreleased, exclusive and forthcoming music from the likes of Barefoot, Entire, DYL and Friske.

Two Hungry Ghosts – One.Seventy Takeover Tracklist (February 2020)

LXC – Cyanz (45 Seven)
DB1 – Late Night (Molt)
Paragon – The Lies You’re Telling Featuring Larry O’Donnell (Groundwork)
Barefoot – Collapse (Groundwork)
??? – ??? (Unreleased)
Entire – White Teeth (Unreleased)
Barefoot – Untitled (Unreleased)
DYL – Flow (Unreleased)
Friske – City Limits (Droogs)
Dexta – Cyclops (AWRA)
Simstah – Oblivious (re:st)
Barefoot – Fulmar (re:st)

First broadcast on NOODS Radio 20th February 2020 between 14:00-15:00.